back to article Boss put chocolate cake on aircon controller, to stop people using it

Far out, it's Friday! Which means it's time for another edition of On-Call, El Reg's week-ending reader-contributed tales of support gigs that went south. This week, meet “Jim” who one tended “a reasonably-sized server room/wiring closet, which hosted a number of internal and production systems. We were rather fortunate in …

  1. DJ Smiley

    Sorry!

    The cake was a lie!

    1. Servman

      Re: Sorry!

      The Network Operations Centre would like to remind you that <garble>first you will be baked<garble> then there will be cake.

  2. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Joke

    A whole new version of...

    "Let them eat cake !"

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Where's Simon when you need him?

    Clearly a situation that calls for a BOFH-modded cattle prod, or a stairwell accident, or something weird happening to the elevators, or a freak Halon incident (triggered by a cocoa powder sensor an Arduino and some actuators?), or any solution involving quicklime and a roll of carpet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's Simon when you need him?

      Ah. Read that as QuickTime and a roll of carpet. It'd probably still work, though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope the COO got his just desserts.

  5. Paul

    Dessert on a climate control panel?

    Someone was trying to have their cake and heat it!

    1. AbelSoul
      Pint

      Re: have their cake and heat it!

      Bravo Paul, bravo sir!

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "Someone was trying to have their cake and heat it!"

      Explains perhaps why Boris Johnson is so...ah...tubby. Have his cake and eat it + hot air.

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    So, my first read....

    Boss put chocolate cake on aircon controller, to stop people using it

    Stop people using it?

    Which? - The chocolate cake or the aircon?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, my first read....

      I was in a meeting once discussing a move to a new premises that was being renovated for our use. The main topic was the design of various rooms designated for equipment use. Someone had put the air con control panel on the outside of the server room on the plan. This was queried as it meant that anyone could change the temperature in the server room without needing to get inside. As the door would be restricted to authorised users this was a security risk. So the panel is moved on the drawing to inside the room. Basically just on the backside of the same wall so the cabling should be the same.

      Next meeting the panel is back where it was and again someone spots this and flags it up. On a conference call with contractors they tell us that they didn't do it. This is the latest version of the plans so something isn't right somewhere. We query with the architects and discover that they have been moving things around. Why? - That took some explaining but it boiled down to a case of aesthetics. The door to the server room was in a very small corridor leading to an office. The air con panel for the office was in this corridor too. When asked why the server panel was outside we were directed to a rendering of the corridor. It looks better putting it directly opposite the one on the other wall for the office than not having it there don't you think? "Nice bit of symmetry!"

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: So, my first read....

        At least they didn't hand you the feng shui thing about why.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So, my first read....

        "it boiled down to a case of aesthetics."

        We had an architect with a fetish for putting windows right up to the corners of the building on both walls. Presumably it made it look as if the building was being held up by magic when, of course, everyone knew the external walls weren't load-bearing and the building was held up by pillars just behind the windows and blocking the light. Presumably in architect thinking it's better to be stupid and look clever rather than be clever and look ordinary.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aaaah, food related support queries.

    * The one about the Sony FX-series laptops that almost always got biscuit crumbs down the latch sensor at the front, holding the flap down and making the machine refuse to turn on.

    * The one about the user who constantly complained about the poor quality keyboards we supplied, yet never grasped the link between those poor quality keyboards and the amount of pastry flakes we emptied out each time.

    * The one about the customer who complained that we spilt Coca-Cola on their laptop during a repair, because they could never ever have done that - it got locked in a safe every night. (This was in the days of a laptop being expensive enough put in a safe). It went all the way through to legal action before their partner admitted, the evening before it was due in court, that they'd spilt it and lobbed it away in a panic.

    * The desktop PC we discovered a really, REALLY mouldy sandwich inside. Initial examinations with a very long proddy stick showed it to be possibly bacon - and probably stashed there to keep warm, or because someone was meant to be on a diet. It was way past the stage of smelliness and had crossed the line into fossilisation.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      So sad that someone could waste bacon like that.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Yeah been close to the pastry flakes. Had a new user complain about a crunching sound that came from the keyboard when they typed. We swapped out the keyboard and then opened it for investigation downstairs. We found toast crumbs in there sufficient to be at least one slice of bread. The previous occupant of the desk had always eaten breakfast at the office and this consisted of toast from the canteen. Also in there were two tiny black ball bearings, a stretched out paperclip and four propelling pencil leads.

      In another the keys were sticking and upon opening the thing up we found out why. A slightly milky but otherwise mostly clear sticky substance was coating the interior. Upon confronting the user about their habits they admitted to having accidentally dropped a glass of sugar free lemonade onto the keyboard. They'd run a damp cloth over the keys but made no attempt to drain it at all. Unsurprisingly it was suffering next day during operation,

  8. mt_head

    Saw this as a giant mural on the wall of a pie shop once...

    "My favorite people are the people of the dessert", said Lawrence as he picked up his fork.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Saw this as a giant mural on the wall of a pie shop once...

      Whould that be Afternoon TEa Lawrence?

      1. Chas

        Re: Saw this as a giant mural on the wall of a pie shop once...

        Bravo, sir/madam. Have a hot buttered crumpet and an upvote for your trouble.

        Or perhaps you prefer muffins...

        =:~)

  9. dvd

    Heating / Aircon

    I've never worked anywhere yet where the heating / aircon worked adequately. Ever. One place that I worked had the thermostat in the boss's tiny office in an open plan building of about 10000 square foot. That worked well. And that sort of shit was pretty typical.

    I've also never worked anywhere yet where anyone who could didn't fiddle with the thermostat constantly as the temperature was uncomfortable somewhere in the office.

    Surely this shit should be sorted out by now.

    1. Olivier2553

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      This only proves, if needs be, that open office is a stupid idea.

      I am alone in my office and never change any setting on the aircond.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Heating / Aircon

        Set it to low. If people are cold, they can wear jumpers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          Set it to low. If people are cold, they can wear jumpers.

          No! Set it to warm. If people are hot, they can undress.

          1. John G Imrie Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            No! Set it to warm. If people are hot, they can undress.

            That sounded fine, until I looked at my co-workers. ARGH!!!!!!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            "If people are hot, they can undress."

            Nelly approves.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Heating / Aircon

              "If people are hot, they can undress."

              ...because there's nothing as much fun as peeling your buttocks off an office chair on a sweaty day...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            NOOO

            I could not un-see my colleagues (who are not swimsuit models). Even the thought is disturbing

          4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            Nooooooo!!! I do NOT want to see my IT colleagues in their skivvies.

          5. kain preacher Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            Some folks I do not want to see nude

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Heating / Aircon

              MOST folks I do not want to see nude

              There, FTFY

          6. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            But what happens if it's still too hot, even when you have no clothes left to take off?

          7. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            "No! Set it to warm. If people are hot, they can undress."

            There are many more people on this planet in proportion that I'd rather NOT see unclothed, thank you very much.

          8. Lilolefrostback

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            Before you suggest that, look around the office at your co-workers and consider very carefully whether you really want to see them nekkid.

        2. MsScullz

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          With all due respect, I have to strongly disagree that "wearing jumpers" is the solution here. Just putting on a jumper doesn't fix the fact that my fingers and nose start to go numb with cold if the temperature drops below 20 degrees. I have been known to sit here wearing a hat and scarf. I sometimes also don mitts, but they make typing pretty hard work, which is far from ideal given that I'm a sys admin.

          I don't know what the solution is to prevent air con wars in offices, but dismissing people who genuinely can't cope with the air temperature being cold is not it.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            It's true the hands really start to suffer even if you wear a jumper.

            I once worked in the Gherkin in London, such a modern building, you'd think that the environment would be right, wouldn't you? Except that inside there are these big areas cut out of the floors on several floors above each other, so you have something like balconies that can look down several floors. So if you are at or near the bottom of one of these sections the air just disappears up this section, leading to use of mini electric heaters in the offices.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Heating / Aircon

              "It's true the hands really start to suffer even if you wear a jumper."

              That's what these are for: http://www.kiwikate.co.uk/shop/Shop+by+Product/Gloves/Gloves+-+Possum+Merino+with+Silk-2%3Fsku=01239.html

          2. keithpeter
            Coat

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            "I don't know what the solution is to prevent air con wars in offices, but dismissing people who genuinely can't cope with the air temperature being cold is not it."

            This might sound daft but it is not meant to be: some form of localised heating?

            Other countries may have this sorted a bit... but not for hands...

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotatsu

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korsi

            Gamers...

            http://www.odditycentral.com/news/this-infrared-heat-lamp-keeps-your-hands-warm-as-you-type.html

            Coat: I always have a fleece in my bag in case of aggressive aircon

          3. Long John Brass Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            I don't know what the solution is to prevent air con wars in offices, but dismissing people who genuinely can't cope with the air temperature being cold is not it.

            It's not much fun the other way either. Worked in offices where the ladies had firm control over the AC temperatures. This left me a molten puddle of human flesh; Unable to think work, think or do anything useful. They thought this was great fun and many snide remarks were made at my expense.

            Started spending time in the machine room. You would often find me sitting on the machine room floor with a laptop & Ethernet into the back one of the switches.

          4. Olivier2553

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            Not sure you'll read it, 3 days after the original article.

            Wearing a scarf is a good solution . In fact you need to protect your head, neck, and spine the most. When your body gets cold, it will send warm blood to the essential places listed above, so you will have less blood to warm your hands and feet.

            It is not very useful to protect your hands and feet, you better keep the very essential places warm. That's one of the reason why scuba diving wet suits has double layer of neoprene along the spine (triple layer if you count that pants too) and a hood. But you can go bare feet and bare hands.

            When you have cold feet, cover your neck.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          Set it to low. If people are cold, they can wear jumpers.

          Leaving aside the HSS implications, jumpers don't keep your hands warm..

          (Or at least not in those of us that already have a lower-than-average body temperature and poor circulation..)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            My wife knitted me a large jumper with overlong and very wide arms. On the coldest days I can drape them over the keyboard and still touch type or completely cover the mouse and still use it.

            Haven't found a good way to keep my nose warm though :<:)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      I was reading a piece recently in some industry journal or other that comfort testing on air-con shows women on average want a temperature about 1.5°C higher than men. To make this worse, this is very much an average, and people's preferred temperatures differ wildly.

      Making it an unsolvable problem.

      You can help by using things like chilled beams, which cool the office without causing a cold draft. But there is no perfect answer.

      Although giving people access to controllers that don't work can help a bit. People will bugger the system up, and it will tend to be the most extreme people who care most, so if you let them you'll end up with the temperature at 16°C or 25°C. But they'll feel a bit better just by pressing buttons, and feeling that they're having some input.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heating / Aircon

        You're definitely right about the most extreme people caring the most. I shared an office with a bunch of people who were all happy with anything around 20ish but there was one guy who who was very... well let's say he had a high volume to surface area ratio because that's the thermally relevant feature. He insisted that 16°C was the only reasonable temperature. So we ended up with a 'compromise' of about 17-18°C when a real compromise would have been 19.5°C and a gym subscription.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          Many years ago I worked with a large gentleman in a Victorian UK building.

          He was happy to sweat it out. Everyone around him was less merry.

          Let the big guys rule the thermostat and wear more layers, or you *will* regret it, there being no BO laws on the books.

      2. W4YBO

        Re: Heating / Aircon

        I installed a non-functioning thermostat in a studio area once. Worked great for about a year until some smartass tied a ribbon to a vent that could be seen from the faux thermostat's location.

      3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Heating / Aircon

        I worked for a small firm in a rented house once. A wife of a co-worker started working for us for a while and would put the central heating on *in summer*.

        It was impossible to work in the high 20's, so I got some relief by turning off the boiler directly. Her doting husband found out and turned it back on.

        She eventually got the living room to herself with an electric heater. That lasted until the boss walked in and realised he was paying for the electric that could power a sauna.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          I have a colleague who's been given a little space-heater in her office. To be fair to her she gets very cold, and really does struggle at a temperature where I'm happy with a slightly thicker top.

          And you can't just wear a jumper, when the temp falls below some point, your hands stop working properly. If I've got a nice jumper on I can be perfectly happily warm, and not even vaguely uncomfortable, at a temperature of around 15°C. But at that point I can't type very fast because my hands are too cold.

          The problem with her is that she's perfectly happy at 22°C, which I can cope with. But she just doesn't understand thermostats. No, turning it up won't make it hotter, quicker. It just means the heater stays on longer. I walked into her room last winter with a thermometer. She still had her little scarf on, and it was 27°C! When I pointed out that it was just a trifle warm in there, she told me that it was just perfect, and to leave the heater controls alone. I don't know who designed the thermostat on that thing, but she had it turned to full and it still hadn't clicked off. If the office were open plan, there'd be more arguments.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Heating / Aircon

            27 degrees!

            The problem is that of the frog in the boiling water.

            She's cold so turns it up and it gradually goes up until it's 27. She doesn't notice the increase except that she starts to feel no longer cold.

            Whereas you walk in and it's like getting off a plane on your summer holiday.

        2. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: Heating / Aircon

          Heater on in the summer ? She is clearly not human.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Heating / Aircon

        women on average want a temperature about 1.5°C higher than men

        In my household it's the other way around. I set the thermostat to ~20c and yet, when I look at it a day or so later, it's somehow mysteriously gone down to 16C..

        She tries to blame the cats, but the thermostat is about 5 foot up a blank wall. And besides which, if it was up to the cats, it would be set to 30C (being descended from desert creatures and all that).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      I have witnessed a Chinese office with huge open spaces (think about 2000 square meters for just 1 of the office spaces). High ceilings as well, 5 meters and above in some areas. Polished concrete floors, a lot of glass, the real industrial look. Very impressive when you walk in, until you spotted the AC units. About 30 of them spread around. The temperature control panel was a joy to behold : 30 control dials on one wall, each AC could be individually set, by all and sundry. With the result that during year one the power bill for one hot month amounted to about 500000 CNY (this was between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, summers can be really hot). Year two involved putting locked cabinets on those dials, and dumping a lot of solar panels on the roof.

    4. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      My missus insists we have it about 23C in our house all year round, which only happened after her thyroid went haywire just after a difficult pregnancy. I prefer to be cold than hot, so my missus will often wallow in the bath 2 or 3 times a day on weekends rather than force the rest of us to sweat it out with her.

    5. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      I once worked in a lab where most of the area's Postdocs and PhD students had desks (with PCs on them) in an open plan area which had been created by glass roofing a square space inside the building but open to the sky.

      It had large aircon units which were ancient and VERY LOUD when they were working. In the winter we froze and in the summer we roasted. However, at no point, which got measured, were the temperatures high enough or low enough to warrant action under H&S to be taken to remedy the situation.

      From personal experience sitting still at 12C in inside clothes is uncomfortable. I used to wear a fleece. If I had continued to work there through another Scottish winter I would have bought fingerless gloves.

      Most folk in Scotland cease to use their conservatories in the winter. We had to work in one. Because we were deep in a well of buildings we almost never got sun except in high summer. Needless to say we didn't have cellular connections. You had to go to the very end of the corridor for that.

    6. Captain DaFt

      Re: Heating / Aircon

      I've also never worked anywhere yet where anyone who could didn't fiddle with the thermostat constantly as the temperature was uncomfortable somewhere in the office.

      Surely this shit should be sorted out by now.

      Best "solution" I ever heard of was the company that installed dummy thermostats around the area. (But didn't tell the workers that!)

      People fiddled with them and commented on how much more comfortable the area was.

      All due to the placebo effect and a sense of control over the environment.

      Meanwhile, the real thermostat that controlled the heating/AC was never changed.

    7. G.Y.

      humidity Re: Heating / Aircon

      At one place, half the people complained it was too hot, half that it was too cold. The AC people ran round&round with a thermometer.

      They never checked humidity; but one person would ride her bike to work, put her sweaty sweatshirt on her chair to dry -- and after 9+ hours it would be still sweaty.

      I suggested they replace their thermometer with an astrology book -- more fun, and equally misleading.

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Coffee/keyboard

    The Juice Is Loose

    Back in pre-history, Philips made a useful workstation system called Maestro, a mini-computer and desktop system that we used to make life easier for the mainframe developerr. We used them very effectively and were pleased when we upgraded to the new Maestro 9000 series, which had a lot of the functionality put into some slick and spendy (£3000 in 1990) keyboard units. You can see one stuck to the wall of the Starbug in Red Dwarf. They were well built, but sadly not environment sealed as we discovered when my desk neighbour over-exerted himself while trying to open a recalcitrant carton of orange juice and when the carton opened in a rapidly evolving failure mode dumped the contents into the keyboard/desktop computer unit. Orange juice and PCBs are not amicable companions. He was known as OJ for a long while after that, until the nickname acquired unfortunate connotations.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The Juice Is Loose

      "dumped the contents into the keyboard/desktop computer unit."

      Wasn't that also the sort of time period when even thinking about eating or drinking within 10 feet of the computer or keyboard was a sackable offence?

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: The Juice Is Loose

        We were developers, what were they going to do?

        Taking food and drink near any of the msnframe nodes in the computer hall, however, was utterly forbidden (unless you were an op and it was anywhere near Christmas - we’ve had BOFHs in our life ever since Knute was a lad).

  11. Alister Silver badge

    I think I've written before about our comms room. Unusually, we, the Ops staff were given the opportunity to design the space and layout from a blank sheet when we moved into the building, as it was a new build specifically for the company.

    We therefore designed the whole area to be open and spacious, with a central row of racks down the middle of the room with power distribution and network access from the ceiling, and wide sturdy worktops down one side, with loads of power outlets and network ports available. Dedicated air-conditioning was put in place with a hot side and a cold side for the racks.

    Access to the comms room was controlled by electronic tags as well as physical locks, and only IT staff and company Directors were allowed access.

    Within 3 months of moving in, the room had changed from a roomy, pleasant work space, to being jammed full of crap. There's a golf cart, a set of car wheels, broken desks and chairs and all sorts of other stuff, to the point that it is no longer possible to open the rack doors unless you first empty the room into the corridor.

    The IT staff have not done this, so guess who?

    1. Olivier2553

      That one would have been easy: an urgent maintenance that needs all the rack doors to be open. Dump the junk in the corridor and let the owners deal with it.

      Of course, the maintenance will take several weeks.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      No need for urgent maintenance. Just send out an email: "The junk from the comms room has been moved to the corridor. The owners WILL retrieve their Junk before date X. On date X any remaining objects will be dumped in a skip. We are NOT responsible for loss of items."

      There is no need to NOT be a dick about it.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Stop

        There is no need to NOT be a dick about it.

        Erm, I think the part where it's the Company Directors' junk would imply a good reason to not be a dick.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          I would still be a dick about it. Just because they are director doesn't mean they can just dump personal items in a work environment without problem. Tires/wheels and such do not belong in a comms room, so they don't stay in the comms room.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Erm 2...

          I think the part where it's the Company Directors' junk would imply the best reason to be a dick.

          Play them at their own game.

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            Re: Erm 2...

            Just move the crap directly into the skip. When asked what happened to it, reply that you dont know, one day it was gone and you assumed whoever put it there took it away.

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Obvious design fail

      Designing it "roomy" was asking for trouble. If there is spare space in a non-client-visible part of a building, it WILL be used as storage space until the room is no longer usable. You're lucky that you didn't end up hosting the cleaning staff's wheelie cart as well. I for one have never seen any place where that did not happen, and I've seen quite a few places on several continents. It's just a basic law of the Universe. If you want a garbage-free environment, design it with enough space for operation, but barely (of course that doesn't apply to client-visible places such as lobbies, where hundreds square meters of empty, wasted space seem to be desirable).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Obvious design fail

        "Designing it "roomy" was asking for trouble."

        No, allowing anyone other than the IT staff was.

        Noone outside IT goes in our server room unaccompanied. The extingushant system is potentially lethal.

        That's our excuse and we're sticking to it.

        1. Uffish

          Re: "potentially lethal"

          It's not worth having a dangerous system if it's not fully, and reliably, lethal, takes all the fun out of it.

    4. Trygve Henriksen

      You designed the computer room wrong.

      The doors need to be 2" wider than any unit to be placed inside(usually the racks) and no more. The room needs to be long and narrow, and the racks facing towards one of the long walls, so that there's decent working area in front and behind, but no more. Workdesks and storage is to be at the end furthest away from the doors.

      You need a raised floor, and a step up just inside the door. And a ramp that is cumbersome to assemble and put in place, and must be removed again to close the door.

      That will make it a PITA to store large objects in there...

      Mark off any corner or other floorspace with yellow and black tape, and write 'for recycling'...

      Then track down and... 'no one ever heard from them ever again' anyone who has access without a good cause.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Trygve Henriksen

        Nonsense. Some of the measures you are recommending will also make life difficult for day-to-day work, and the others are just useless if not harmful. Storage and desk areas, that you recommend be placed in the furthest area of the server room, should really be completely separate and placed foremost so as to serve as additional access control. In the real world no raised floor or access ramp will prevent strorage of any kind of object, including very heavy ones. You would only create problems for yourself by increasing the hassle of removing them. No raised floor will prevent clueless people from thinking that storing it there is easier than chucking it in the lift and putting it in *proper* storage in the -creepy, dark, distant- basement. Or, god forbid, filing the proper paperwork to have it discarded. "recycling area"-type marking actually makes it WORST, as people do genuinely believe that it's now YOUR problem and will dump MORE garbage there. Trust me, been there, seen that, and quite often, too. We even had to deal with a "work accident" claim from someone who got a backache from dumping a small (broken) fridge from the rest area into a tech space. Said tech space being difficult to dump gabage into was designated an Occupational Hazard in the claim. Yeah, right. (this one didn't go through, obviously).

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Within 3 months of moving in, the room had changed from a roomy, pleasant work space, to being jammed full of crap..... to the point that it is no longer possible to open the rack doors unless you first empty the room into the corridor."

      Which is what you do, and then make an anonymous call to the local fire service that a unannounced random inspection would be a good idea.

      Or just tell the maintenance staff that all the crap in the hallway needs to go into a skip - NOW.

  12. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Steak

    Used to work in a place with a tiny server room with huge air intake.

    All was fine apart from a nearby company kitchen that sometimes pumped out the aroma of steak and garlic.

    The hazard in the room was of saliva.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Steak

      When there's a southwest breeze, my office receives the scent of toast in the morning and chips at lunchtime. In the ten years I've been here I've put on two stone.

      1. Morten_T
        Happy

        Re: Steak

        This sounds a bit familiar. Our office is next to a company making sweets. At 4-5am we can smell it, and can usually make out if it's licorice, caramel or strawberry on that day. I like it - many of my colleagues, not so much.

  13. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Ah yes, the AirCon adjustments

    Somewhere in Central Asia we installed a system on the 4ft floor of a Communist Era Office block. The climate was controlled by how much a huge window was opened.

    This worked fine until a Hooded Crow flew into said window and killed itself. As anyone who has seen the aftermath of a Sparrowhawk meeting a pigeon in mid air knows, that all that is left is feathers and dust and lots of both. They went everywhere.

    It took a month of work to finally get rid of the detritous from the incident. It was a good job that the HDD's were sealed units. I'd hate to think what would have happened if we were still using removable disk packs.

    When I departed the site, they were still using the window but some netting had been strung over the outside of the building to stop the birds from flying where they shouldn't have been.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Ah yes, the AirCon adjustments

      4ft floor? Seems a bit low.

      1. Justicesays

        Re: Ah yes, the AirCon adjustments

        Something like this I guess

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Y7oo3iB40

  14. dbtx Bronze badge

    cake, and grief counseling

    +10 rep for not using duct tape

    -10 rep for not using clear packing tape or something approximately as photogenic

    -50 rep for using a schizophrenic's sense of causality

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: cake, and grief counseling

      This is the first time I've actually seen someone use that quote and not the overused one.

      1. dbtx Bronze badge

        Re: cake, and grief counseling

        'Tis a shame-- that's the first strong hint that you are probably in the Twilight Zone, and my favourite.

    2. dbtx Bronze badge

      Re: cake, and grief counseling

      in case you missed the connection, here's a nice bit of back story and bonus mid-story leading up to the endgame

      "The bad news is that reality doesn't exist. The good news is we have a new cat graveyard."

  15. techdead
    Facepalm

    Winter tyres...

    we had a Russian office where the partners stored their winter tyres for their Zils or whatever tank was popular at the time, in the comms room...

  16. ukgnome Silver badge

    The first I have ever said this

    Cake is not the solution

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The first I have ever said this

      "Cake is not the solution"

      Of course it is. What's the problem?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: The first I have ever said this

        "Cake is not the solution"

        Of course it is. What's the problem?

        Wanting to have a high blood glucose level due to a partial failure of the feedback monitoring and control system..

  17. 's water music Silver badge

    The ops manager eventually just went and got the office vacuum cleaner...

    Srsly? He didn't unplug an entire rack of kit to power up the hoover? Where's his sense of comic timing ffs?

  18. Alan Sharkey

    It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

    Many years ago I ran a computer department. The management of the company decided that they wanted to run "musak" throughout the building. In vain, I protested that we were coding and needed quiet in our little area.

    The day after the speakers went live, they were suprisingly quiet - due to a small pair of wire cutters I just happened to have in my desk :)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

      "a small pair of wire cutters"

      One former colleague who preferred piece and quiet in pubs was known to carry a pair of wire cutters in her handbag.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

        I have to confess to acquiring a very handy Casio watch (when they went bells and whistles in a very impressive manner) that seemed to have a comprehensive collection of TV remote IR codes. Yup - when you wanted to turn down the volume/turn off an irritating television it turned out to be very useful Guess it dates me a little......

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

          I have an off-brand one of those, bought from a market stall in Thailand... It's very useful indeed, and good for playing tricks on people.

          Finding a perfect match to any tv might take a while, but a lot of them share codes for some functionality.

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

          I have to confess to acquiring a very handy Casio watch

          Awww. Given the mention of wire-cutters above, I was hoping for a James Bond style watch with a laser in it to cut the speaker wires...

          Disappointed now...

          :(

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

          "Yup - when you wanted to turn down the volume/turn off an irritating television it turned out to be very useful "

          Some android phones have IR emitters and in the App store there are a few apps that can utilise this for switching off TVs.

          Guess how I know this? :)

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

            "Some android phones have IR emitters and in the App store there are a few apps that can utilise this for switching off TVs."

            Pierogi on the N900 here. Very useful.

            pierogi.garage.maemo.org

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

        "piece and quiet"

        Dammit. I'm having a bad weak with my tiepin.

        1. W4YBO

          Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

          "piece and quiet"

          And here I had that scored as pun of the week!

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: It's not just cake which can annoy the real folk.

      "The day after the speakers went live, they were suprisingly quiet - due to a small pair of wire cutters"

      I can now reveal that, as a student and at the request of my boss, I replaced the 100V line speaker in the outer office with a suitable wire wound resistor, so that the people running the muzak system would not notice that the current had reduced.

    3. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Megaphone

      re Musak

      In a design lab at Marconi Chelmsford - so I was told:

      Manglement decided that the department warranted a Tannoy speaker. A loud one.

      The engineers disagreed. Complaints were ignored. Repeatedly.

      Over the weeks the sound became more distorted, but quieter. Eventually whatever the fault was, the thing was barely audible and everyone was happy.

      Some years later - redecoration time. A chippy (and probably a sparks) was sent round to remove the speaker. He nearly dropped it it was so heavy. Removing the back out of curiosity revealed a speaker cone peppered with holes and a box half full of lead shot.

  19. RockBurner

    Storing stuff in the server room (because it's the only room in the office which is regularly locked) is so commonplace in SMBs that I'd be surprised if it wasn't a 'Recommended Cost Saving Security Solution' in some PHB management book by some business management entrepreneur.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The other place to store stuff is the plantroom, if there is one. I was in a £200+ a night hotel in Kensington a few years ago where they dumped the old mattresses in the room with their drinking water tank. And left them to slowly rot.

      God knows what else they stored in there, but there was an inch deep layer of un-identified black goop on the floor.

      Funnily enough when the maintenance manager later offered us a drink, we declined.

      I'm not quite sure why maintenance was in his title. One of their pump motors had literally exploded several years before. And they'd just left the place running on the single back-up pump since, and hoped for the best. We were in to design them a new system - but they stopped talking to us after they got a surprise inspection from the water regs inspectors. Thought we'd dobbed them in. Not guilty m'lud, I reckon it was the fire officer who turned up for an unannounced inspection when I was there - I could see quite a few breaches of those regs too, and I think he saw that tank room and did it to annoy them.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The joy of climate control

    For years, we toiled and complained about overly hot summer days in our old office. Then management moved us to a posh new office, down the road. It is fully climate controlled. Can you guess what everyone complains about?

    1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: The joy of climate control

      Brexit? It's Brexit isn't it?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: The joy of climate control

      Nope. It's lack of cake on the air-con control panels...

  21. Dave Pickles

    From my .sig collection

    Don't know where it came from:

    "I lost interest in 'blade servers' when I found they didn't throw knives at people who weren't supposed to be in your machine room."

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: From my .sig collection

      You know, some blade server chassis can hold tape drives in a slot. How difficult do you think it is to build a repeating crossbow out of one?

      Now, aiming... that's the challenge...

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: From my .sig collection

        "Now, aiming... that's the challenge..."

        What do you think tape-changing robots were invented for ?

  22. Snowy
    Coat

    While the cake it not fix it

    It did bring to highlight that too many people had access to the server room and they could do stupid things in there. It did in the end make someone fix the to easy access to the server room.

    The end result was the cake did indeed fix it :)

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One Monday morning I arrived to find that over the weekend Facilities had boarded over the openings into the risers with fire-proof boards. The sort that sprinkle hard little bits of grit all over the place when you cut and drill them. They'd cut and drilled them.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The sort that sprinkle hard little bits of grit all over the place when you cut and drill them. They'd cut and drilled them."

      how many tape drives do you have? How much did you bill them for replacements? (at $12k to $20k for robot drives)

      That kind of bill is the sort to make facilities managers sit up and take notice.

  24. Wade Burchette

    Reminds me

    When I was in college, I helped my friend in his heating & AC business. One of his customers had an expensive computer-controlled Carrier system. Each room had a device that looked like a thermostat, acted like a thermostat, but was really just a monitor. The system was set up to lie; it displayed a temperature reading but that was not always true. Knowing the office ladies each had a favorite temperature (the men working there never touched the thing), the monitor that looked like a thermostat would lie about the temperature. The computer controlled each room's temperature, and you needed a computer with proprietary program to change anything, and the only copy of that was on a laptop that never stayed on-site. So when one of the ladies turned the temperature up on the monitor thermostat, the temperature displayed on the monitor would faithfully go up even though the room temperature stayed the same. And then when another lady came by soon thereafter to turn it down, the temperature on the display went down too. It lied, and the people in the office never knew it lied.

    It showed me the power of the mind. If you see a thermostat say "74 degrees" then you think it is 74 degrees even if it is 78 degrees. Never once did the office ladies complain about the thermostat not working.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me

      That had better be the temperature of the water in the pipes, nof the air in the room .....

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Reminds me

        That had better be the temperature of the water in the pipes, nof the air in the room .....

        I believe (hope) that the temps he quoted were in Fahrenheit.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me

      I wish to upvote this system more than once.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me

      "It showed me the power of the mind. If you see a thermostat say "74 degrees" then you think it is 74 degrees even if it is 78 degrees."

      that works wonderfully until someone acquires a digital thermometer.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Reminds me

        "that works wonderfully until someone acquires a digital thermometer."

        Nah, those temps are in Fahrenheit and digital thermometers weren't really around back in those days of ancient measurement scales. Who in the civilised world still uses that?

        Coat. It's a bit chilly.

  25. iancom

    Air con wars

    Thankfully, for some time I've been in an office where the air con is fixed to about 21/22 C in such a way that only the maintenance company could change it -- no thermostats to be fiddled with.

    People just don't understand thermostats. They're really, REALLY simple things. Set it at the temperature you want, and leave it. No dramas. Assuming the heater/cooler is capable of reaching that temperature, it will do so and maintain it there.

    But no. I don't know how such a large amount of the population (including my otherwise wonderful nearest-and-dearest) have lived their lives without working out this simple device. Too many people think that setting the thermostat higher or lower will accelerate the rate at which the cooling or heating happens. It doesn't.

    Some years ago where I worked in an area with one thermostat containing the IT team (all male) and HR team (all female), the thermostat was routinely swapped between 16 degrees and 25 throughout the day, never just left at 20 or 21 which would probably have suited most people on the floor.

    I tried to sellotape the thermostat at 21 several times. Never worked. I never tried chocolate cake. Definitely going to try that at home now.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Air con wars

      Speaking of "nearest and dearest", mine routinely takes those one of gel packs out of the freezer and puts it in the meat drawer of the fridge proper. Which makes sense except that she believes that it keeps the meat drawer cooler long after coming to the same temperature as the rest of the contents.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Air con wars

      I tried to sellotape the thermostat at 21 several times.

      Gaffer tape. It's *always* the answer.

      Either that or superglue.

    3. acid andy
      Boffin

      Re: Air con wars

      "Too many people think that setting the thermostat higher or lower will accelerate the rate at which the cooling or heating happens. It doesn't."

      I think it's actually often that the person has got very cold (or hot) with the setting other people left it at, so they adjust it a lot to compensate because it takes time and extra heat (or cooling) for their body to get back to an acceptable temperature. They're also well aware that very soon their nemesis will likely come and turn it back down (or up) again, so they inflate their own adjustment to try to compensate for that and stay warmer (or cooler) for longer. Think body temperature, not air temperature.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Air con wars

      "I tried to sellotape the thermostat at 21 several times. "

      I solved the problem at home with a time-zoned thermostat. If SWMBO adjusts it, it will reset a few hours later (and it's never switched off in summer, it just never gets cold enough for the heating to kick in)

      Many office thermostats have the same facility. If you can't install a fake one just use the timer facility to reset temperatures periodically. Most people won't work out how to disable it.

      The problem with analog units is that people equate them with a volume control. Digital 'stats are somewhat more resistant to being dialled up to 11.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Air con wars

      "Never worked. I never tried chocolate cake. Definitely going to try that at home now."

      Won't work here. Wife is a chocoholic! There'd not even be crumbs left to worry about!

  26. NXM

    Secretary syndrome

    Years ago when I had my heating & ventilation hat on, a large networked heating control system in Glasgow attracted persistent complains from the building owners that one room in particular was too hot. Whenever I checked it, the heating was off, valves off, vents blowing ambient temperature air.

    It was a mystery until the boss went inone day and checked under the desks - the typist ladies were overcompensating for their lunchtime diets by running fan heaters on their legs all day.

    One more complaint was from someone who insisted on putting his desk right under the air vent and complained about the 'cold' air (really just recirculated at room temp). Absolutely would not move the desk.

    A year or two later I went back on a service visit to find the offices festooned with air con units on full blast, and the heating on at the same time.

  27. js.lanshark

    Access removed because of idjits

    We had a network/server Lab/Stage area adjacent to the Data Center. Access to the DC was via a door to which the Architect level personnel had rights. The other side of said Lab was public space via a door to which network/server staff had rights. Very handy for moving configured gear from the staging process into the DC.

    All was well until one Architect started to give tours of the DC via the lab because he didn't want to be bothered with signing in and out his guests via the Data Center Ops office.

    They now have to trundle gear through the halls and offices to get it into the Data Center because the DC Ops Manager sealed the door due to said Architects antics.

  28. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    Source of the famous phrase:

    "Let them heat cake!"

    (Sorry, this is all I could come up with.)

  29. Chris Hill 1

    Hysteresis

    As one that used to work from home it used to make me chuckle twice a year, the first cold days and the first hot days when the email went out from the facilities team to say they they were aware that the office was rather cold/hot and the HVAC engineer had been called out to wield the golden spanner to rectify the situation.

    In my current place of work we occupy a mature building, where the temperature of two floors with four distinct office spaces is regulated by a single thermostat at one end of the office. Us mortals have been forbidden from turning it down/up to allow us to reach an ideal temperature. We have to coax the radiators to try and produce more heat or open the windows to reduce the temperature.

    1. Spacedinvader
      Happy

      Re: Hysteresis

      Shirley you just have to cool the thermostat to get it to heat up the place...say a can of compressed air, upside down?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange system

    The last office I worked at had a very strange system where a boiler continuously fed hot air and multiple chiller units simultaneously blasted in cold air. The maintenance guys appeared to control the temperature by balancing the two systems against each other.

    If either side failed (which they did fairly often) the temperature would either plunge to near zero or soar to over 40C. For some reason (which they could never explain) it wasn't possible to turn off the remaining operational system and the extreme conditions could last for several days while they waited for some vital part to arrive from China. During prolonged outages they would have to hire portable air conditioning units or electric heaters, as appropriate. The energy bills must have been enormous.

  31. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Sealed building. Genius design.

    Many years ago I worked in a very large office building. Designed and built before the onset of personal computers,

    The building was sealed (you needs a special key to open any window) and cold air was fed in one corner of the building (ground floor, I think) and the positive pressure circulated the air up to the farthest point from the input and then out again. (Top floor I think.) Much cheaper than full air conditioning.

    Two obvious points; it only worked with all the windows closed, and if someone had a cold everyone beyond that point in the airflow got to share.

    Cue lots of PCs and then lots of other computers (Unix was popular). The cooling wasn't up to the job. The first few offices were fine, then the temperature went up. Special key to open the windows in a building full of engineers? Yeah. All the windows open and everyone suffering.

    As far as I know they never fixed it but there were a lot of rooms with their own portable air con units with the output bodged into a window or wall.

  32. JulieM Silver badge

    In my place of work

    In my place of work, the main open-plan office office and the rec room / canteen each have two heating / AC units linked fo a single controller.

    Unfortunately, the arbitration logic in the controller is all broken. If one end of the room is at 19 degrees and the other end is at 23 degrees, and the controller is set for 21 degrees, both units come on to heat until the cooler end of the room reaches 21 degrees -- and the hotter end is now nearer 27. If the mode is then changed from heating to cooling, both units come on to cool until the hotter end gets down to 19 degrees.

    The controllers also have a nasty habit of crashing and restarting themselves if the temperature in either end of the room is below 19 or above 23 degrees .....

  33. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Bogus HVAC controls

    In many govt buildings I've worked in the HVAC controls are placebos. Keeps the masses happy and doesn't change a thing. Temps are allowed to hit the rails on what the occupational safety people will accept...

    ...one exception being a time when we teamed up a building manager and his key ring with an intern who has Allen-Bradley PLC experience and tools. A very good lad -

    definitely going places.

  34. Anonymous Tribble

    I once was handed an inkjet printer to fix. I found it was full of old dog food and doggy hair. It turned out that it had been used at home and the family pet had taken an interest. That took some cleaning out but I was able to get it working again. I suppose I was lucky that it was just food and hair.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019